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Jan 8, 2015

Thoughts on League of Legends As a Varsity Sport In Universities



Ever since Robert Morris University became the first university to offer scholarships to League of Legends players as a varsity sport, debate has erupted through America as to what constitutes a sport, with people vehemently taking sides.

Meanwhile, the count has officially become two with University of Pikeville as the second school to offer scholarships for the game we all cherish.

Thoughts on Scholarships

Until larger, more prominent universities begin accepting League of Legends professionals as a viable career path, it's hard to say whether or not schools that crop up with scholarships are merely doing it for the publicity and recognition. However, it does have to start somewhere...

I think that the major reason most schools aren't establishing scholarships just yet is because as a game, League of Legends is prone to "fad" status, as all games historically are. With a standard college degree taking four years, and League of Legends merely around for 5 years as of today, it's no wonder that colleges aren't exactly jumping at the chance to recruit players for 4 year programs.

League of Legends Staying Power

Note that DOTA, the game League is based off of, has been around for an astounding 12 years! Also, as some of you recall, DOTA started out as a completely free to play game for 7 years and a loyal fanbase. Meanwhile, LoL is projected to generate one BILLION dollars in revenue next year. Just think about how much game improvement they can make with that...

While nothing lasts forever (historically speaking), I think that League of Legends has a better chance than anything we've ever seen to stick around, and that's saying something with Counterstrike sporting an impressive 16 years and counting with strong popularity.

League of Legends as a Sport

This is an interesting argument, and one that seems to upset a lot of people. Even the designation "e-sport" apparently annoys many for some reason. Here are some definitions:

Oxford - Sport [spôrt][noun] - An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

Webster - Sport [spôrt][noun] - A contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other.

To compare, chess is normally not considered by people as a sport. However, did you know that:
Chess is a recognized sport of the International Olympic Committee and international chess competition is sanctioned by the World Chess Federation (FIDE), which adopted the now-standard Staunton chess set in 1924 for use in all official games. Source
People have recognized Chess as a sport since your grandfather/great-grandfather's time

Picture from ESPN

Parting Thoughts

No matter how long League ends up surviving to until its last deathrattle, it's definitely here to stay for many years to come. Likely, it will end up as a game even your kids will play. Hopefully you'll still be able to show them up, but hey, life takes its toll on even the best athletes. Meanwhile, I think that the Robert Morris director said it best:
“You know who this upsets? The middle-aged dude sitting in his La-Z-Boy watching NFL on weekends, going, ‘What? That’s not a sport!’ while he has the six-pack of beer and Cheetos. It challenges him in some weird way. Because it’s new.”
So get out there on the rift and play my fellow athletes!
athlete [aTHˌlēt][noun] - a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.
Agree that LoL is a sport? Disagree? Have friends that disagree? Comment below!

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  1. Correction: DotA was not technically "Free to Play", you needed WC3 and TFT to play it. Aside from that, great article! I agree with most of your points, and I hope that it can continue to evolve and grow into a game that can last a very long time. I'm not sure whether I agree that it's a sport, but I think it is definitely a form of competition as valid if not more valid than most sports because of its casual and easy to play nature. You can't just go out and play competitive basketball whenever the hell you want. You can with LoL, and that's one of the things I love most about it.

  2. SSJSuntasticJanuary 08, 2015

    That's an excellent point! I actually bought RoC to play ladder, but I'll admit the only reason I purchased TFT was to play Dota...

  3. As a high school senior the prospect of this in the coming years is really exciting. I probably wouldn't be the one on the team but I would certainly go to watch EVERY game if my school had a Varsity team. I can't help but wonder that if Riot sponsored teams if that would make schools more willing to start up.

  4. Ryan ShurtleffJanuary 09, 2015

    If Nascar and hunting are considered sports, I don't see why League cannot be. An additional definition of the word sport from the illustrious Wikipedia:
    "Sport is generally recognized as activities which are based in physical athleticism or physical dexterity"

    And dexterity, aka, fine motor skill:
    "Fine motor skill is the coordination of small muscle movements—usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers—with the eyes."

    That's all the backup I need to classify it as a sport. As a graduate of UPike, I'm really excited for what the future holds for the school. I just wish scholarships were around a few years earlier.

  5. I am off to usa to get a LoL scholarship.

  6. calico jonesJanuary 11, 2015

    As much as I love League, it's difficult, as a Health Science major, to consider any videogame, board game, etc... as a "sport." In all honesty, it's an extremely fun and competitive game that does take skill, but also promotes sedentary lifestyles. That aside, I do think there should be a separate category for professional gamers.

  7. disisdeathwingJanuary 12, 2015

    dota is still alive?
    holy mother of gawd.
    we'll see though about this topic.

  8. KingCaliburJanuary 12, 2015

    We are in dire need to voice our opinions on this matter. Our so called "nerds" need to stand up for this. Movies portray the "jocks" and "cheerleaders" to be the apex of everything that has to do with growing up, so why not the stand of the nerds? If this becomes fixed and students decide to drop the whole "macho" persona, we could see a change in how the young generations come about. League of Legends could promote less violence compared to other games, more teamwork/cooperation, its a strategy based game along with it being math orientated to say the least. I see this being a very positive move for LoL to come.

  9. If you haven't noticed most professional e-sports players follow rigorous dietary standards and often exercise regularly.

  10. Yes! Let's all become beta pussies who can't manage themselves in high pressure social situations, let's prioritize something that ruins your eyes back and is tremendously addicting, I am a nerd, i play D&D, MTG, LoL, so you can see my opinion is thought out... But please ,let the world stay real, chess is a PHYSICAL GAME, a battle of wits, mtg too, D&D is all about social interaction between the playgroup... Have you seen how Dyrus body transformed since he became a lol pro? That's not healthy, besides girls will always like jocks because a fit body means you care about yourself hence you are more likely to be a responsible person and a strong father. Nerds need to change, WE need to evolve and show that being a nerdy doesen't preclude being without style/ real interests.

  11. Call me whatever you like, the day a digital game will be considred officially a sport, i will pick up my things and go live in Africa helping kids to go somewhere where people still have contact with the Physical ( saying real would be bad, since LoL is part of the current reality) world.

  12. Robert lipseyJanuary 12, 2015

    So you mean if it were to be played competitively at, say, the X-games?

  13. Aquamaster11January 12, 2015

    Do you not realize that LoL is also a PHYSICAL GAME by your standards? You think that chess qualifies as such because it's a battle of wits, same with MTG. LoL is most certainly a battle of wits; there are innumerable strategies and ways to outsmart your opponent.

  14. Then why do I always see so many obese e-sports professionals?

  15. I find it amazing that League has come this far. Universities are starting to see League is a sport, heck the U.S. Gov. calls it a sport. Think about it, League has almost single handily changed what the definition of what a sport is crazy. Not saying League is the only game that has helped, but has a large part of it. Heck I go to Michigan Tech, and our LOL club is trying to get the university to realize it is a sport. Hopefully we have a good showing in the Collagiate Championship to prove something.

  16. calico jonesJanuary 14, 2015

    I haven't noticed that. In fact, I've seen interviews with pro teams that say that their days consist of eating, sleeping and playing video games.


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